Legislation Aimed at Easing Way for Charter School Expansion

Dec 19, 2013

Some lawmakers want to make it easier for independent charter schools to expand in Milwaukee
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Some Wisconsin lawmakers want to make it easier for successful charter schools to replicate themselves.

Charter schools are funded by tax dollars but operate independently – although under the watch of the agency that issued the charter. Right now, those licensing agencies include the City of Milwaukee, MATC and UWM.

The bill would allow a high-performing independent charter school to open an additional campus. The definition of high-performing - exceeding academic expectations for two straight years.  Republican Rep. Dale Kooyenga helped author the bill.

“I am hungry for education reform, and education reform is overdue. Because throughout the whole state even though a lot of kids are succeeding, one in 10 students will not even graduate high school. I represent Milwaukee Public Schools. Three-and-a-half students out of 10 do not graduate high school,” Kooyenga says.

Kooyenga says his goal is to ensure students in Milwaukee have options, and access to schools with proven track records.

A sticking point for Democratic Rep. Mandy Wright is what she calls charter schools’ lack of accountability.

“We do actually have a bill that has to do with making sure that teacher licensure, criteria for awarding a high school diploma, expulsion standards much like the public schools have, that we just follow those same simple accountability measures. And if there’s no opposition, then I wonder why it’s not in place yet?” Wright says.

Movement on the bill is expected, come mid-January.